Newcastle Science City review puts focus on Science Central

An exciting new collaboration between Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University will be at the heart of a revamped vision for Newcastle Science City.  City Council staff and University researchers will work together to create a living laboratory to map out the city of the future.

The new approach follows a review of Newcastle Science City to set a course beyond March 2015, when the funding arrangements for the company structure first set up with One NorthEast come to an end.

Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council will continue its partnership activities under the banner of Newcastle Science City, with a major commitment to invest in the Science Central development.

The review has also identified the activities that are now delivered within the University and the City Council which means that a separate Science city delivery company will not be needed beyond March 2015. Staff are aware that funding was not guaranteed beyond March 2015. A number of posts will continue to provide support to the partnership, but these will be employed by the respective partners. Regrettably, this does mean that a small number of staff will be at risk of redundancy from the Science City Company.

The transformation of the Science Central site is progressing well and this will continue to be the focus of the Science City partnership over the next few years. The landmark building, the Core, is opening in November 2014 and the University has appointed architects for its £50m Urban Sciences building. This new centre will combine digital ingenuity and sustainability research with social innovation to lead advances in the development of future or ‘smart’ cities. Based in the heart of Newcastle – the former home of Scottish and Newcastle brewery – Science Central aims is to create a living lab where new technologies and systems can be trialed while making a real difference to society.

Professor Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor, Newcastle University, explains:

“Over its 10 year history Newcastle Science City has evolved to respond to the needs of the city and its businesses and to opportunities, such as the Science Central development site.

The partnership has also adapted to major challenges including the recession in 2008 and the demise of the Regional Development Agency.

Funding for the Newcastle Science City company structure was committed by the core partners - Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council – to March 2015 and so it is timely for the partners to be reviewing its future direction.

It is against this backdrop and the scarcity of public funding that the partners have decided to transfer some of the functions of Science City to the partners from March 2015, which will be a more effective way of delivery. The partnership between Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University will continue under the banner of Newcastle Science City, with a key focus on delivering the Science Central development.”

Pat Ritchie, Chief Executive, Newcastle City Council, said:

“The council and the university will build on our successful science partnership to create a new collaborative approach to planning the future of the city. We will combine City Council expertise with academic insight to address big societal challenges such as energy and the environment, digital opportunities, health and ageing and civic engagement. This new partnership will continue to operate under the Science City brand.

An important priority will be our continued focus on maintaining progress on Science Central and promoting it as a major inward investment opportunity. This is a unique city centre development which offers fantastic opportunities for businesses to locate alongside the world class research and innovation carried out by the University. It will continue to transform Newcastle’s skyline and open up an exciting new quarter of the city. The work is on schedule and the city council will now take responsibility for ensuring it is delivered.

Newcastle Science City was fortunate from the outset to secure Paul Walker as its chairman and he has been a constant throughout its 10-year history. This is why the University and City Council are delighted that Paul has agreed to stay on as chair of the partnership and act as an ambassador for the Science Central development. His private sector experience and reputation will be important in our efforts to attract inward investment to the site.”

Since its inception Science City has supported over 755 regional companies to commercialise new ideas, created 43 new companies, and in the last year alone it has helped over 6,000 schoolchildren across the city to get involved in science-based events and activities and to see what it could mean for their future.

These business support and school engagement initiatives will continue to be provided by the two partners in Newcastle Science City.

Paul Walker, chairman of Newcastle Science City, added:

“I have been proud to chair Newcastle Science City from its creation in 2004, and I am pleased to continue to act as the figurehead for the partnership from March 2015 and beyond.

Much has been achieved during its lifetime including attracting significant investment into the region from Central and European sources, the most recent of which was £8m from the Local Growth Fund to support an Energy Centre and Life Sciences incubator units on Science Central.

In planning for the future the partners are also keen to respond to opportunities for Government and European funding focused on the ‘Future Cities’ agenda. We believe Newcastle is well placed to take advantage of these opportunities.”

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